story by Lisa Radano
photos by UdoR
Mr. Shoji politely explained to the enthusiastic crowd around him after his show, the meaning of The Silk Road in this collection. He spoke quietly and demurely about the significance of this ancient trade route – how it linked the east to the west, not just in the sharing of goods, but also of culture and ideas. Our Internet-soaked times cause us to take connections for granted. The Silk Road was the cultural exchange equivalent of our Internet for its time, and Mr. Shoji’s collection attempts to remind us of the ancient journeys that made global connections for thousands of years.
Keeping to a simple waist-hugging a-line silhouette for most of these special occasion dresses, Mr. Shoji took us from the lace of Venice to the Ikat of Kazakhstan, ending with the silk and chiffon of China. The colors ranged from African earth tones to Asian blues and violets, with accents of creamy white, gold and black. Necklines were ladylike, scooped or with a tromp l’oeil collars floating on illusion covered shoulders.
There were as many cap sleeves as strapless. Embroidery and lace were abundant but always light and melting to the body, at times in alternating panels with chiffon. His homage to Ikat, shown in long dresses with horizontal color block panels of blues or iris, was ethereal. A few short trapeze dresses were shown, but otherwise the lengths were to the knee or the floor– ladylike luxury and polite elegance being the theme here. The last passage did bring up the wattage with chiffon, ruching, crystals, appliqués and flounces tiered down the skirting. These were the dresses one might envision on a starlet at some glittering event. When asked backstage, whether any actresses had yet ordered the clothes, Mr. Shoji’s sigh was as whisper light as the clothes, and his answer was equally as demure – “The collection is based on the Silk Road…” he began again.